||Postscripts January 2004, December 2009 and January 2018||Page 40|
As mentioned with regard to the origins of the culture of peace, it was born at a very particular moment of history, "the end of the Cold War which made possible unanimous action by the UN Security Council and which led to peacekeeping operations and the document An Agenda for Peace (1992)."
Looking back on that moment with the hindsight of twelve years, it seems that it was both a remarkable window of opportunity, and perhaps a window through which one can view the future.
It was a window of opportunity for the development of peace initiatives by the United Nations, but the window did not stay open for long. Within a very few years it was no longer possible to fund programs for a culture of peace, and the United Nations, in general, was once more dominated by the culture of war.
At the same time that moment may have provided us with a window into the future, providing us a clue as to how humankind can overcome the paradox of achieving a culture of peace despite the fact that the nation state, itself, continues to be the agent of the culture of war.
To understand this more clearly, it is worth re-reading a preface that I wrote (but did not submit) in 1992 to the UNESCO Director-General, providing an historical context for the proposal for a culture of peace programme.
As the preface describes, in 1992 there were many failed states, where the United Nations was given jurisdiction. In theory, the United Nations was in a position to rebuild the nation state along new lines on the basis of a culture of peace instead of a culture of war. Although the UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme did not state this objective very clearly, with hindsight one can see that it was an implied objective. In fact, it could be argued that the very opportunity of the United Nations at that moment to engage in "nation-building" provided a stimulus to the more explicit analysis and formulation of the culture of peace which was later expressed in the United Nations Programme of Action adopted in 1999.
As for the future, it seems likely that the world will once again go through a period of war and failed states. Once again, the revulsion to war may open a window of opportunity for the culture of peace. If so, the opportunity should be seized and the United Nations empowered to begin the establishment in these failed states of a new kind of nation state based on the principles of a culture of peace as described in the UN Programme of Action.
Note added in December 2009: My thinking has evolved in the last few years, and I have now proposed a concrete strategy for the transition to a culture of peace in my new books: World Peace through the Town Hall and I Have Seen the Promised Land. Looking back 5 years to the above postscript and 17 years to the preface that I did not give to Mr Mayor, one can see clearly the direction of this evolution. In fact, it requires giving up the assumption that peace will come through reform of the state and seeking a United Nations that is based upon local governments rather than Member States.
Note added in 2018: Since these materials are not available elsewhere on the Internet, I have added the history of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace at the UN General Assembly in 1999, and the full text of Father Felipe MacGregor's 1986 book Cultura de Paz, which preceded the adoption of the culture of peace concept by UNESCO at the Yamoussoukro Conference of 1989.
For the development of civil society initiatives for a culture of peace during the UN Decade 2001-2010, see the World Report on the Culture of Peace 2010. And for recent history of the culture of peace, as it has continued to evolve since 2010, see the Culture of Peace News Network and my monthly blog, Transition to a Culture of Peace: World history as it is happening.